Wednesday: Marlies 3 - Amerks 4
For the sixth time this season, the Rochester Americans defeated the North Division rival Toronto Marlies with a 4-3 victory Wednesday night in the third of a four-game homestand at The Blue Cross Arena.
Rookie forward Alexander Nylander sealed the second straight win for the Amerks as he potted his eighth goal of the campaign with just 1:20 left in contest after assisting on the game-tying goal earlier in the third period.
Cole Schneider recorded a pair of assists for his team-leading 14th multi-point of the year while Derek Grant scored his first goal as an Amerk and first since Mar. 26 of last season as a member of the Stockton Heat.
Mac Bennett opened the scoring on the night with his third of the season while Jean Dupuy netted his second of the slate. Goaltender Linus Ullmark improved his record to 22-21-1 after making 18 saves on the night in his 16th start over the last 18 games for Rochester.
The Marlies were led by third-year veteran Kerby Rychel as he scored his 13th goal of the season to go along with an assist while Mike Sislo and Kasperi Kapanen rounded out the scoring. Antoine Bibeau got the nod in the cage for Toronto and stopped 28 of 32 but took the loss.
After the Marlies took their only lead of the contest just 22 seconds into the final period, the Amerks responded with a pair of goals for the 4-3 victory. With the win, Rochester improved to 6-1-0-1 against Toronto this season and closed out home portion of the season series with a near-perfect 4-0-0-1 record with just two games remaining between the two teams.
With the Amerks trailing 3-2, Grant received an outlet pass as he slipped behind a Marlies defender and was unable to fire a shot off but drew a delayed penalty. Nylander, however, joined the play and tucked behind the net before centering a pass towards the cage that Grant converted for his first of the season to knot the game with 14:34 left to play.
"It's been a while," said Grant when talking about his goal. "I switched sticks prior to the third period, so maybe that is something I should have done back in October. Scoring the goal was good but it is even better to get the win."
As the contest was nearing its conclusion, it appeared the two clubs were heading for overtime, but Nylander ended any thought of an extra session as he picked up a loose puck at the Marlies blueline. As Schneider tied up the Toronto defenseman, he poked the puck towards open space, allowing the Amerks rookie to pick it up in stride and fire home the game-winning tally with 80 seconds showing on the third-period clock.
"I came onto the ice from the bench," said Nylander. "I saw 'Schneids' tie up his guy and Cole gave me a pass. I went one-on-one, so I just shot the puck and hoped it went in and it did. I feel as a line with Schneider and Grant we got better and better throughout the game. We have been working hard lately and it paid off tonight."
Friday: St. John's 3 - Amerks 2
Despite opening the scoring less than four minutes into the contest, the Amerks concluded their four-game homestand Friday night with a 3-2 setback to the St. John's IceCaps at The Blue Cross Arena. The loss was the second in a week to the IceCaps, who scored three times in the second period before holding on for the win.
After capping off the scoring in Wednesday's night win, Alexander Nylander opened Friday's contest with his ninth marker of the season while Kyle Bonis added his eighth tally of the campaign. Goaltender Linus Ullmark, who has started 17 of the last 19 games for Rochester, stopped 30 of 33 in the losing effort. The second-year netminder owns a record of 22-22-2 on the season and has won four of his last seven starts dating back to Feb. 19.
Bobby Farnham and Max Friberg each collected a multi-point game (1+1) while Jacob de la Rose opened the scoring for the IceCaps. Rookie goalie Charlie Lindgren improved to 19-16-5 on the slate after making 18 saves. The netminder's 19 victories rank second among all first-year goaltenders and are tied for sixth overall in the league.
When the Amerks and IceCaps took the ice for the second period, the home squad was leading on the scoreboard 1-0 following Nylander's ninth goal of the season 3:13 into the contest. The IceCaps tied the contest at 1-1 less than five minutes into middle frame with de la Rose's eighth goal of the season.
Rochester was able to regain the lead at the 10:47 mark after Bonis fired a shot from the half-wall. With the puck about to leave the IceCaps zone, Amerks defenseman Mat Bodie kept it in play just inside the blueline and move it to Tyson Strachan. The veteran blueliner found Bonis near the wall who then rifled a shot past Lindgren with Daniel Muzito-Bagenda providing a screen to give the Amerks a 2-1 lead with 9:13 in the period.
"The third line has done a good job for us," said Amerks head coach Dan Lambert. "As a team, we need that secondary scoring, but unfortunately in this game, you do not win too many games when your best players are not your best players."
The visitors, however, responded with the next two goals to cap off a second period that saw them erase a pair of one-goal deficits and outshot the Amerks 15-5.
"We had a good first period," Lambert said. "In the second period, though, for some reason we decided to not get pucks deep in St. John's zone, we turned the puck over too much and it cost us tonight. After they got the lead, we were unable to penetrate their defense and we got the result that we got."
Sunday: Amerks 0 - Springfield 2
The Rochester Americans were unable to get anything past goaltender Adam Wilcox, who stopped all 26 shots he faced to pick up his second shutout of the season while leading the Springfield Thunderbirds to a 2-0 win Sunday afternoon at the MassMutual Center.
The two clubs are now tied at 1-1-0-0 in the season series, with two more games left to play later this month.
Goaltender Linus Ullmark, who has started 18 of the last 20 games for Rochester, stopped 24 of 26 in the losing effort. The second-year netminder owns a record of 22-23-2 on the season. Defensemen Tyson Strachan and Brady Austin tied for the team lead with three shots on goal each.
The scoring was provided by Anthony Greco and Thunderbirds goal-scoring leader Paul Thompson, both of whom notched four goals in three games while helping Springfield complete the weekend sweep. Wilcox, acquired by the parent Florida Panthers at the NHL trade deadline, was perfect in stopping all 26 shots to record his first shutout as a Thunderbird and first since a 25-save effort as a member of the Syracuse Crunch back on Dec. 3, which was also against Rochester.
The Amerks return home on Wednesday for a North Division showdown against the intrastate rivals Binghamton Senators at The Blue Cross Arena. The B-Sens return to Rochester fueled by former Amerks Phil Varone and Jason Akeson, both of whom were part of the trade that brought Cole Schneider to Rochester last season. Amerks defenseman Patrick Mullen also played three full seasons in Binghamton and has two goals against his former club.
Schneider enters the week leading Rochester with 49 points on the campaign as he approaches his fourth-straight 20-goal season. Prior to Sunday's loss in Springfield, Schneider was riding a three-game assist-streak (0+4).
Following Wednesday's game against Binghamton, the Amerks head north of the border for three straight, beginning with their final visit to St. John's for a two-game set with the IceCaps. In all, the two teams will face-off a total of four times this month.
1. Cole Schneider: 19G - 30A - 49 PTS
2. Mat Bodie: 10G - 23A - 33 PTS
3. Nicholas Baptiste: 20G - 12A - 32 PTS
4. Justin Bailey: 19G - 10A - 29 PTS
5. Evan Rodrigues: 9G - 18A - 27 PTS
1. Linus Ullmark: 22-23-2; 2.89 GAA; .908 SV%
2. John Muse: 2-8-0; 3.37 GAA; .901 SV%